Happy blustery Monday! As we get closer to our From Dreaming to Doing Conference, which is just under a month away, we’re continuing with interviews of our amazing faculty members. I’m so happy to welcome fellow area member and Marylander, the lovely Laura Shovan to the Cyber Café!
Laura is a poet, children’s author, editor, and educator. She was Howard County Poetry and Literature Society’s 2015-2016 writer-in-residence. Laura edited Maryland Writers’ Association’s anthology LIFE IN ME LIKE GRASS ON FIRE: LOVE Poems and co-edited VOICES FLY: AN ANTHOLOGY OF EXERCISES AND POEMS from the Maryland State Arts Council Artists-in-Residence Program, for which she is a longtime classroom workshop leader. THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, her middle grade novel-in-verse, debuted in 2016 (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House).
Along with author Calef Brown, Laura will be presenting the Sunday intensive “All School Visits Great and Small.” School visits are a great way for children’s and YA authors to meet their readers. But how do authors put together an engaging presentation, whether they are meeting 30 students or 300? In this session, Laura and Calef will share their approaches and experiences with school visits, from small classroom workshop to large auditorium presentations. The intensive will include tips, best practices, and models to help make your school visits a success.
Let’s get started!
First off, what is your brainstorming process like?
I get ideas at odd moments, when my mind is relaxed. There are notebooks and slips of paper all over my house and in my car where I can jot thoughts down, or have my daughter scribe them for me if I’m driving. When I’m out for a walk, I call home and leave myself a message so the brainstorm isn’t lost. Sometimes these ideas develop into stand-alone poems. If I’m working on a novel, they usually relate to fixing a plot or character problem, or they’re ideas for scenes.
What is your writing schedule like?
I am a morning person. I try to get my writing in before noon. When I have a pressing deadline, I turn into a night owl and work from 10-1.
Describe your perfect writing day:
Veronica Bartles and I went on a three-day writing retreat this summer. We did nothing but write all day and rewarded ourselves by watching Broadway HD at night. That was pretty perfect.
That does sound perfect! Who are your favorite authors?
My mom is English, so British authors have a special appeal for me. It’s probably the voice. I love Hilary McKay for contemporary middle grade, Diana Wynne Jones, Eva Ibbotson, and Susan Cooper’s fantasy novels. Patrick Ness’s THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE is a recent favorite.
If one of your books were made into a movie:
Who would play the main characters?
Child actors! I’d love to see Nichelle Nichols from the original Star Trek cast play Ms. Hill.
What songs would be on the soundtrack?
Ms. Hill’s favorite folk songs. Click here for a playlist.
Nichelle Nichols? Love her! Are you in a critique group? If so, how has that helped your writing?
I’m in on online middle grade critique group. We meet by Skype as needed to discuss full manuscripts. The members have each published a first book or are on submission to editors. It’s a serious group. We’re supportive, but focused on the business of helping each other revise our manuscripts. Their feedback has been spot-on as I work on my next middle grade novel.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing or editing?
I like making two things from scratch: soup and socks.
Share with us something personal that others would be surprised to find out:
I was really into music as a teenager. Seeing my favorite 80’s bands perform now is a blast. I’ve been to concerts with Queen, The English Beat, and recently my #1 crush/secret boyfriend, Adam Ant.
Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!
Do you . . .
Outline or wing it? Teaching myself to outline. ((Puts self in detention.))
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Talk it out.
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Live-pitch before drafting.
Prefer writing rough drafts or editing? Editing. Hands down. 100%.
Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Proud Poetry Friday blogger.
Read Kindle or traditional books? My Kindle is dusty.
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? Morning
Music to listen to while writing? K-Pop
Writing tool? Binders
Pair of shoes? Doctor Who High Tops
Guiltiest pleasure? Concert Tees
Line from a movie? “We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it.” From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Thanks so much, Laura! Can’t wait to see you at the conference and hear more from you!
Friends, don’t forget that we did five previous interviews. If you missed any, click on the links below and learn more about this stellar faculty!
- Thao Le, Agent, Dijkstra Agency
- Patricia Hruby Powell, author
- Alyssa Nassner, illustrator and designer
- Liz Kossnar, Associate Editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Susan Stockdale, author and illustrator
Happy writing and illustrating!